It’s Thursday, September 15th and I’m packing for my first international trip during my study abroad experience: Oktoberfest in Munich.
I have been planning for this weekend trip since the middle of June, when I decided to go out on a limb and message a random student, whom I had never met, about going with her to Oktoberfest. Being a shy and sometimes nervous person, I felt proud of myself for reaching out to this girl and making plans three months in advance. I told everyone that would listen that I was going to Oktoberfest.
Flash forward to Friday morning, September 16th, and I wake up to the sounds of my alarm mixed with the harsh crashes of thunder and rain. My roommate and I gather our bags and head out the door around 6:30 a.m. We march down stairs and open the door to a small river running down our cobblestone street. As we open our umbrellas and I cover my backpack in it’s water proof casing, we think nothing of this rain storm besides the fact that it’s a tad bit cold.
We quickly meet up with our friend and arduously make our way to the train station, all of us giddy but exhausted.
As we stand under the shelter of the train station’s roof, I pull out my tickets and look over them once more. We arrived about ten minutes before the train was supposed to depart. Plenty of time.
The rain continues and so does my growing lack of patience. It has now been 20 minutes past the time the train was supposed to depart and we are still sitting at the station.
I wonder if the train can be so delayed by rain?
30 minutes delayed.
The worried looks on the Italian locals give me heart palpitations. If this train is late, then we could be late for the train that takes us to the airport. I can’t even begin to comprehend this; I have been waiting for this. I have bought my flight, lodging and train tickets to get to Munich. The night before, I looked up where I could get a last minute dirndl. I was ready to be there.
After an hour of waiting, we get on the train. All of us were trying to stay positive, but the stressed out, scrunched up eyebrows were starting to emerge.
How can a country that rains all the damn time and who is known for its miles of train travel, be so delayed by rain?
A conductor walks by and briskly barks out something along the lines of, we will be moving shortly.
Well isn’t that a ray of sunshine on this miserable, god forsaken day?
As our train picks up the pace, I flip through an issue of Vanity Fair that I had brought with me, all the way from California. Isn’t it neat, that this paper magazine has been all of over the world? I try to occupy myself with this fascinating thought as we pull up to the next stop on the line, Vetralla.
I will never forget that name, Vetralla.
Ve-trall-aaaa. The lovely ring of it’s name has no use on me, I am pissed. Full blown, cursing and looking the part of the loud American at this tiny Italian train station.
We see a couple of other students from our program. They are heading to Cinque Terre, they too have missed their train. One of them pulls out a carton of something that looks like grape juice. Ah, no. It is wine; wine at 8 a.m. on this lovely Friday morning. Why not?
As the light seeps through the now light gray clouds, the rain has slowed to a halt and so has my hopes of making our plane. As this sobering thought criss-crosses through my mind, I try to hold back the rage and the tears that so desperately want to fall. I save that for the train.
An Italian man kindly tells us to get back to get on the train. We are going somewhere, it isn’t quite determined where yet.
We climb aboard the train that I am slowly beginning to detest with all my heart and take our places in a car with older Italians. One woman is speaking rapidly, waving her hands about to another woman who faces forward in her seat, every so often nodding her head in agreement.
They look to us, to our bags and to our disappointed faces.
The conductor walks past and it has been decided that the train cannot go forward, it can only go back to Viterbo.
As our death sentence on wheels takes off, I gaze out the window, trying so hard not to crack.
What makes me crack is all the money that has just metaphorically gone up in flames; all of the excitement leaves me in one sigh of anguish. I cry.
The lady who had been listening and nodding, notices me crying and asks in Italian, why the tears?
I cannot answer her properly and this makes me more upset.
This ridiculous and unreal scene makes me laugh as I try to explain to her:
“Waste of money… Shit out of luck… I’m a student studying abroad…”
It is miraculous how fast and how slowly that train returned to Viterbo. The four of us gathered our belongings and made the trip back to our homes that we had made hours before.
This trip taught me that Italian trains will stop and or be delayed do to a light sprinkle.
But really, on a more serious note, this trip was an eye opener. It taught me that I should always be prepared and by flight insurance. That I need to stay more calm under pressure. That if you are trapped in an awful situation, you should take a step back and realize that there will be a tomorrow even though you just might have to wade through a river of rainwater to get there.